1st annual volunteer night was success

1st annual volunteer night was success

SMC Co-Founders, Gabe Howe and Jill Stokes

The event started at about 6pm last Saturday, May 5. Guests started filtering through the doors of Southern Oregon University’s Meese Art Auditorium. But they weren’t there for the art; they were there to honor SMC volunteers, who over the last two years have put in over 2,000 hours of work to clear trails mostly in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area.

Attendees lingered around a silent auction while munching on goodies from La Tapatia Restaurant in Phoenix, OR and sipping on beer and wine from Shop N’ Kart in Ashland. 
The presentation in the auditorium started with an introduction by SMC board member Zack Green, who is still waiting for an SMC trail-name.  

“In my opinion this was long overdue,” he said. “This is the third year SMC volunteers have been working, and they deserve this.” Then Zack got funny. “Yes, they do work hard, but anyone who will spend ten days in the backcountry with Gabe [SMC Field Coordinator] deserves some recognition.”

Then Gabe Howe took the audience through an 8-minute Google Earth Tour of the Trans-Kalmiopsis Route. 
“Yeah, it’s really fancy or whatever. But really I just wanted for people who haven’t been out there to visualize the work we’ve done, and the work ahead of us,” said Howe. “We’re gonna clean it up and upload it to the web soon, so everyone can go into the Kalmiopsis.” 
A Google Earth Tour is like watching someone use a flight simulator over satellite imagery, with customized notations. 
Matt Cortese gets a laugh out of himself
The tour was so authentic that it was described by retired Kalmiopsis Wilderness Ranger, Rene Casteran, as “effectively barf-bag inducing.”.
“The highlight for me was the heart felt tale of the would-be photographer Matt Cortese,” Rene commented. 
2011 SMC Volunteer Matt Cortese told a story about his 7-day experience last summer. The story was met with many laughs, and perhaps some cries, namely from Field Coordinator Gabe Howe.
“Next time, Gabe, I’m bringing my camera and stopping to take as many pictures as I’d like,” Matt concluded in his speech. Gabe had asked Matthew to leave his camera because it was too heavy, but then requested that Matt carry an axe. 
After Matt’s presentation, Howe offered the SMC Lifetime Partner award to George Brierty of the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest. The award goes to someone outside of the organization who has helped the SMC out a lot. Brierty has been behind and facilitating the SMC since 2009.
The Lifetime Volunteer Award went to SMC Volunteer and interim-Secretary, Jillian Stokes. She is also Howe’s wife. “Nobody in this room has sacrificed as much as this person,” Howe said before announcing the award. 
“We need to talk about this JHA change”
After wrapping up the presentation, the silent auction stayed open for another twenty-minutes. Winners received framed pictures taken by SMC volunteers, river trips with Momentum River Expeditions, Northwest Rafting Company and Indigo Creek outfitters, and gift baskets from Starbucks Coffee in Ashland. The auction fetched about $1600. 
“This wasn’t about making money,” said Howe, who is also SMC Co-Founder. “This was about breaking even and getting the word out, letting the community know what we’ve done, what we’re doing, and where we’re going.” 
After the event, many headed to Emigrant Lake to camp out. But what happens around the campfire, stays around the campfire.